Reformed Free Publishing Association
Article originally published in the October 1,1990 issue of the Standard Bearer, written by Rev. Dale Kuiper.
The two great passages that set forth the concept of reconciliation are Romans 5:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:18–21. The word translated reconciliation, a word used only by Paul, sets forth our salvation in a very rich, broad way. Three ideas are implied in reconciliation: 1) There is a relationship between persons that has brought them very close. 2) This relationship is disturbed so that the persons have become alienated. 3) The cause of alienation has been removed, so that the relationship is restored, and peaceful harmony is once again enjoyed. These points make clear that reconciliation can never occur between strangers, but always between those who have formerly enjoyed a close relationship. (See 1 Cor. 7:11 where the apostle speaks of a wife being reconciled to her husband.)
The original relationship between God and Adam, and hence between God and mankind, was the covenant of friendship. God created man good and after his own image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love him and live with him (Lord’s Day 3). This relationship was disturbed by the fall and disobedience of our first parents, and the resulting fall into sin and death of the entire human race. Man became the enemy of God (Rom. 5:10); he became dead, living unto himself (2 Cor. 5:14–15). In his great love for the world, God has reconciled the church (the new humanity) unto himself by the death of his Son, “to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19). Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles unto God in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby (Eph. 2:16). Thus the cause of estrangement is removed! Christ is made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Once more we are the friends of God, we are saved by his life, and may enjoy God’s friendship now and forever!
Strikingly, the scriptures speak uniformly of our being reconciled to God. Although in human relationships there is usually mutual reconciliation, in the matter of salvation God does not reconcile himself to us or to the world. Why should he? How could he? What would there be to know and enjoy forever, if the only good God changed in any respect? The unchangeable God brings to pass his immutable promise by making us new creatures and conforming us unto himself in Christ!
Because God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, reconciliation will continue until the end of the world. The entire church, known unto God from eternity, must be brought into his gracious covenant of friendship. Accordingly God has committed the word of reconciliation unto the church. Through her ministry ambassadors for Christ speak in Christ’s stead. Through the official ministry it is as though God himself did call you to his side, “Be ye reconciled to God!”
Is man active or passive in reconciliation? The answer is that he is made active. Through the efficacious preaching of the gospel, God makes man active, giving him the right and the power to be reconciled. Thus the child of God repents, believes, is consciously justified, and has peace with his God.